Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week 2 of Whitton Farms CSA!

Hi Friends!

Getting our hands dirty!

FINALLY, the ground is drying out and planting has commenced once more!
We couldn't be happier! We are getting all kinds of goodies in the ground this week like more squash, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, hydrangeas, huckleberries, tomatoes, artichokes, beans, sunflowers, melons, & lots of herbs!

We've also been setting the trellis for our gourds we are going to grow this year. Egg gourds, bushels gourds, birdhouse gourds, dipper gourds, luffa gourds, and more! We can't wait to showcase them this fall.

In the greenhouse we have been bumping up more tomatoes, basil, peppers, trees, flowers, & more heirloom veggies. So much to plant, and the days are only so long. Thankfully we have an amazing farm crew that really are devoted to making our farm the very best it can be.

We have been experiencing some disease in our tomato patch. Nothing too serious, it just been so wet, and when extreme conditions exist, then disease and pests are sure to start invading. Thankfully NEEM OIL has effectively controlled the problem, and the maters are looking better than ever! Many plants already have little tomatoes set on the vine! Keith and I have been watching them everyday to make sure they are growing up right!

Fun Markets to attend!
Since the local food movement has exploded in the MidSouth, so many wonderful
farmers markets have sprung up. There are so many to list, but we wanted to highlight the following markets. We hope you can find time sometime this summer to check out the following markets!
Memphis Farmers Market http://www.memphisfarmersmarket.org/
Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market http://www.memphisbotanicgarden.com/
Urban Farms Farmers Market http://urbanfarmsmemphis.org/
ASU Regional Farmers Market http://www.asuregionalfarmersmarket.org/
Agricenter Farmers Market http://www.agricenter.org/

All kinds of great farmers and artisans to shop with! Check out their links to find out dates and times of their markets!

Great book for CSA subscribers!
Southern Farmers Market Cookbook!
Author: Holly Herrick $19.99
This book lists recipe after recipe specifically driven for cooking in season
with fresh veggies from your CSA sack! Many of the recipes are simple to make, and
tasty for any tastebud in the family. I know some of you are new to the CSA and are looking for ways to experiment with new veggies, and find new ways to cook old favorites - this book should have many of the answers you are looking for!

Alright, that's all I've got for now. Gotta head back outside, and get some more work done. Oh, be sure to keep an eye out for our new freshly - baked Whitton Farms Herbal Breads! We will be using certified organic grains from War Eagle Mills, and organically grown herbs straight from Whitton Farms! These breads will be found at the following markets: Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market, Trolley Stop Market, and Memphis Farmers Market!

Hope everyone stays safe, happy, and dry!
Jill & Keith

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Playing catch up y'all

Hi All!
I've been wanting to get back to writing, so here we are...

Keith and I have been in a working frenzy for the last few months.
This past summer we experienced our most difficult growing season ever.
Hot temperatures, little rain, & the fact that we were trying to open a business(Trolley Stop Market) in Downtown Memphis didn't make it any easier.

Keith and I are very much used to working as a unified team on the farm, but because of our new agri-business - we had to split our time together. Keith stayed at the farm, & I worked on managing the TSM. Keith had to shoulder so many of my responsibilities on the farm in addition to his own, and I had to learn how to run a restaurant with little to no experience doing so.

When we look back at June, July, & August it all just seems like a blur. Don't know how we did it, other than to say we definitely had & still have great talent at the TSM at the Farm, and we both know we had a lot of people praying for us during the most stressful time in our lives.

Keith and I have been saving our money for the last 5 years, not for any one particular reason other than to have a little nest egg. As time marched on we began to envision a year round market in Memphis. The more we talked with our customers & friends we knew we were on to something pretty good. We decided to take a chance and invest into our own little idea.

We had envisioned our store, not really based on anything other than the markets we had been attending, and how we wanted to give our fellow farming & artisan friends a place to sell their goods year round. We thought itd be awesome to have a little restaurant that showcased locally grown goodies everyday on the menu, with our farm being one of the main suppliers.

Keith and I searched for locations in Memphis off and on for about 2 months, until one day the perfect locale fell right into our laps. 704 Madison used to be a nightclub, and when we walked into the place you could definitely tell it was going to take some work to get it cleaned up.
After a lot of cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming, building, chunking, painting, & moving, we had
the right environment for our little place. I'd like to add that we did all the work ourselves with the help of the Underhills from Peace Bee Farm, Jeremy Denno, and wonderful group of volunteers, many of which are now employeed at the TSM.

Now, just over 6 months old, we could not have anticipated a better response from the public for the Trolley Stop Market. I am thrilled to say that we have created well over 30 new jobs for some very special Memphians, and more to come if all works out!

Now that the market season is over, Keith & I are so very relieved to be working together once more. Only now he is COOKING at night at the TSM and I am still overseeing the general operations of the business. We have been sooooooooooooo blessed to have the team we have up there, and we are excited to announce that we are working on opening a 2nd restaurant in early 2011

We have been repeatedly asked if we will still be farming next year, and the answer is an emphatic YES! :) Farming is still our #1 passion, and we have already been planning for next year's crops. Many of our perennial beds have been planted, and spring crops have already been planted. We always thought we would continue to expand the farm, but we have decided to keep it small, just under 10 acres. We want to focus on crops for the Farmers Markets we attend & for the TSM. We have scaled our CSA way back, and plan to expand our shiitake mushroom operation. More to come in the weeks ahead!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Things are really taking off!

Hi Friends!

Life on the farm is going pretty good these days. We've got chores stacked a mile high, but we are gonna do our best to tackle them one by one. Last week Keith and our team of farmhands began digging the first crop of our potatoes. This year we are growing 7 different varieties, some of them are the same ole standard, and others are heirlooms we've been multiplying over the last 3 years. Happy to say that our carrots are really rocking it out in the field we limed in the spring. Keith and I have already been pulling a few of the babies up and they are so delicious and sweet. We've been roasting them in the toaster oven with some baby taters - drizzled with a little olive oil, and talk about a nice treat after a long day of back-breaking work.

We've gotten several emails and phone calls from concerned friends about the amount of rain we've received over the past few weeks, and I'm relieved to say we are doing just fine. Our here I guess we got a little over 3 inches of rain one Saturday, and following weekend we received just over an inch. Tonight Keith and I took a walk across the tomato fields and all is well. We'll start driving our stakes next week. Just wish the wind would die down a bit, its been enough to drive one mad!

The Trolley Stop Market is set to open next week, hopefully. We still have a couple inspections to pass(keep you fingers crossed) and lots of tidying up to do, but we've got a wonderfully talented staff hired and some good food to serve from our little restaurant - JillBilly's
I hope you guys are ready for Sharron Johnson, formerly of Buns on the Run. She's got quite a reputation around town for serving up some scrumptous meals, and its no joke! Next is the one and only Jeremy Denno. Jeremy is fresh out of Vermont & is a master when it comes to piling high on a pizza pie! Our menu at the Trolley Stop Market will feature a wide host of produce and goods that are totally locally grown & cultivated right here in the MidSouth.
So be watching for a notice of our soft opening, and then our GRAND Opening!!!
We're still moving in vendors, and talking to even more who just found out about the TSM. So keep spreading the word, and if you wanna stay in touch be sure to fan us on facebook to receive regular notices and specials of what we've got going on over at the Trolley Stop Market!

Endless Feast Television Show Update!
Last week Keith and I received a copy of the show in the mail, popped it in the dvd player and were amazed at how country I sound on camera ;) All we can say is the show was wonderful. The Endless Feast Crew did an exceptional job capturing the light of the Delta, and we are so very grateful to have been a part of the production. The show will air on PBS/AETN in Arkansas on May 22, 2010. Watch your local listing for showings in your region. We are going to arrange a watch party at the Trolley Stop Market, so if your interested let me know so we can keep you in the loop on all the fun!

Well gotta wrap this up y'all. It's almost 10:00 pm and I am really tired. Tomorrow we start preparing for market, and I've got buckets and buckets of flowers to cut. Thanks for reading and I hope all is well in each of your respective worlds.

Cheers, Jillbilly :)